The life of A.J. Doran

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Pinal Nugget

Andrew James Doran was born at New Philadelphia, Ohio on July 11, 1840. In 1860 he headed west seeking adventure and fortune. He traveled to Colorado then later that year to Tucson while on his way to California. He had some knowledge of construction and mill wrighting and wanted to pursue a vocation using those skills. When the Civil War broke out, he was one of the first to enlist at Sacramento. He was assigned to Company F, California Infantry and in 1861 was stationed in Tucson. He was given a brevet commission due to his familiarity with the Butterfield stage route which ran through Yuma and Maricopa Wells. His command was transferred to Texas.

Two years later he returned to Tucson where after the war he was honorably discharged. He returned to California where he engaged in business as a merchant and established saw mills near a few mining towns. In 1868 he was given several large contracts building bridges for the Central Pacific Railroad.

Doran would return to Arizona in 1876 where he settled at the Silver King Mine in Pinal County near present day Superior. He was later appointed as the assistant mine superintendent and was also the construction engineer of the mill that was to be built. He became interested in prospecting and would pursue mining claims of his own throughout the years. He owned the Belcher mine near Silver King and owned and operated a two stamp mill with his partner C.H. Wheeler.

In 1880 he became one of the first members of the newly formed Pinal County Republican Club. In December of 1880 he was named a Pinal County representative to the Territorial Legislature in Prescott. While in Prescott he made many friends and saw the potential for mining investments in the area.

Doran returned to Florence in 1882 and ran for sheriff against the popular incumbent John Peter Gabriel. Gabriel had served six years as sheriff. The election results ended in a tie. It was determined that the newly elected board of supervisors would make the decision of whom to appoint as the new county sheriff. The board selected Doran.

Doran’s most famous accomplishment as sheriff was the capture of the robbers of the Riverside stage. In August 1883, a group of bandits robbed the Florence to Globe stage near Riverside killing the shot gun messenger Johnny Collins. Doran led a posse which included former Sheriff Pete Gabriel, Doran’s Deputy Scanlan, Tom Weedin, editor of the Florence Enterprise and Deputy Sheriff Fred Adams. They captured three of the suspects along the San Pedro at Redington. Sheriff Doran and Deputy Scanlan brought Frank Carpenter, Joe Tuttle and Len Redfield back to Florence and placed them in jail. The rest of the “Red Jack” gang were trailed and killed by Pima County Sheriff Bob Paul.

On Sept. 3 a large group of vigilantes took Redfield and Tuttle out of their cells and hanged them. Deputy Scanlan was guarding them and Sheriff Doran was out of town. Redfield was thought to be innocent by some while others believed him to be harboring bandits on a regular basis at his Redington ranch. One newspaper gave Doran a hard time when he collected a $600 bounty for the capture of Redfield and Tuttle. They said he should have shared it with the vigilantes who convicted the men.

Part two will be published in next month’sPinal Nugget.

John Hernandez (377 Posts)

John Hernandez lives in Oracle. He is retired and enjoys writing and traveling. He is active in the Oracle Historical Society. He covers numerous public events, researches historical features and writes business/artist profiles.


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